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Ex-Riverside police chief charged with DUI

March 22, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Riverside's former police chief has been charged with drunken driving after leaving a club and crashing his city-owned car.The Riverside County district attorney's office charged Russell Scott Leach on Monday with misdemeanor driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. He faces up to six months in jail if convicted.

Leach, 62, was allegedly drinking at a Colton topless bar on Super Bowl Sunday before he crashed his city-owned Chrysler and drove three miles on the rims. He was pulled over by Riverside police officers just before 3 a.m. after he struck a light pole and a fire hydrant.

District Attorney Rod Pacheco said Leach was so intoxicated he did not realize the tires had disintegrated and he was driving on metal wheel rims. Leach's officers noted he had been drinking alcohol, but did not call for a field sobriety test and recommended no further action.

The California Highway Patrol was asked to conduct an investigation.

The CHP investigation showed Leach had taken several prescription drugs and drank four drinks at his home, despite clear warnings on the medications against drinking alcoholic beverages and operating a vehicle.

The investigation also showed Leach drove to the Club 215 in Colton, and drank at least seven more alcoholic drinks.

Leach admitted to drinking at the bar, but maintained that he wasn't drunk when he crashed the car, just disoriented from the prescription medication.

Leach resigned on February 11, the same day the city of Riverside made public the initial report about the crash, citing unspecified medical reasons.

An attorney for the club said Leach was there Super Bowl Sunday, drank four scotches and ate chicken wings over the next 12 hours, but was not obviously drunk when he left at 2:15 a.m. However, an employee of the club told officers she was so concerned about Leach, she offered to call him a cab, which he refused.

Before being pulled over, prosecutors said Leach was photographed on a red-light enforcement camera, running a red light at an intersection in Riverside.